“It was never my intention to split the Republican vote.”

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Remember way back in October of 2009 — it feels like a million years ago to me — when Sarah Palin shocked the establishment by endorsing, on her facebook page, conservative Doug Hoffman over the GOP-chosen candidate Dede Scozzafava in the race to replace Rep. John McHugh? President Obama had picked McHugh, a Republican, to serve as Secretary of the Army. Hoffman charged Scozzafava for being too moderate and just days before the election she dropped out and threw her support behind Democrat Bill Owens. Owens won with 48% of the vote to Hoffman’s 46% and Scozzafava’s 6%. And thus launched a primary season defined by Tea Party versus Republican epic battles.

This year, a rematch looked likely in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. After losing a bruising primary to Republican Matt Doheny, Hoffman said he’d run as a conservative. He’d raised $2.2 million this cycle, most of which he blew on the primary, leaving Doheny with just $471,000 of the $1.8 million he raised to face Owens, who also raised $2.2 million and didn’t have a tough primary. But today, abruptly, Hoffman, a certified public accountant, withdrew from the race and threw his support behind Doheny, though it’s too late to take his name off the ballot. “Our nation is at a crossroads, and it is imperative that on Election Day we wrest control of Congress from Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat majority,” Hoffman said in a prepared statement. “It was never my intention to split the Republican vote.” Um, it seems just a tad belated for that sentiment, no?

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